GU LIFE Choir Petitions, Seeks Director By Arianne Aryanpur Hoya Staff Writer

Liz McDonald/The Hoya The Gospel Choir rehearses in Dahlgren Chapel.

In two weeks, members of the Georgetown University Gospel Choir have gathered more than 500 signatures on a petition which requests that Campus Ministry provide them with a director and musician, Camilla McFarlane (MSB ’01), choir leader, said.

“Without a director or musician, the choir essentially can’t function at all,” she said.

The choir has been without a director since late September when Derek Campbell, who also served as Director of Liturgical Music for the university, resigned. Campbell, who received a degree in music from Howard University, taught choir at the University of the District of Columbia for 10 years before transferring to Georgetown three years ago.

Campbell said his resignation was prompted by a lack of sufficient office space, of a written contract and of support from the ministry’s staff.

“I had no computer hook-up and basically no telephone,” Campbell said. “I was floating around from mid-August until when I left.” Campbell said he discussed his concerns with University Chaplain Adam Bunnell, O.F.M., Conv., but remained in an office that was prone to flooding and that had poor circulation.

A few weeks before Campbell’s resignation, Campus Ministry eliminated the position of the choir’s assistant director and accompanist, held by Timothy Rice. Rice, who also served as the musician at the university’s 6 p.m. African-American service, had been working closely with the choir for a year, according to cFarlane.

“[Rice’s] commitment, professionalism and dedication to serving Christ have made him an invaluable asset to the choir,” the choir said in a letter highlighting their concerns to University President John J. DeGioia.

When the choir’s board of directors met with Bunnell to discuss Rice’s position with the choir in mid-September, Bunnell attributed his discharge to a lack of funds within the Campus Ministry budget, according to McFarlane. The choir, which falls under Protestant Ministry, receives $2,700 in funds per year.

The choir questioned why the board would not continue to provide Rice’s as it had in years past. Burnell said it was a “discovery of surplus funds” that paid Rice’s salary last year. According to McFarlane, Bunnell suggested the choir raise the money for Rice’s salary through fundraisers and benefit concerts. McFarlane asserted that although the choir has raised mance at the Black Alumni Board dinner, the university should at least provide the choir with the funds necessary to function.

“We require different things [from other groups under Campus Ministry], and we require more money,” she said.

University spokesperson Bill Cessato said the issue is “an internal personnel matter that the Office of Campus Ministry, under the leadership of Adam Bunnell, is working to address. Obviously, the university remains supportive of the talent and creativity of our Gospel Choir.”

Bunnell, who is serving jury duty, could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday.

The recent problems have seriously crippled the choir’s ability to perform, Kristina Heuser (SFS ’03), the choir chaplain, said. According to Heuser, they could not perform at DeGioia’s inauguration ceremony last Saturday as originally planned and have been forced to cancel upcoming shows as well.

However, the recent problems have seriously crippled the choir’s ability to perform, Kristina Heuser (SFS ’03), the choir chaplain, said.

“We were scheduled to sing in New York on Nov. 11 but had to cancel,” she said.

Choir members said they simply want to continue with their mission which is to “boldly proclaim and uplift the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.”

“I just want to see the choir do what it has been doing for the past 20 years,” McFarlane said. Rashida Roberts (SFS ’05) agreed. “It has hurt our spirit a lot . but the main thing we emphasize is that although we have problems at the moment we will not let this hinder our ministry,” she said.

Last spring, students met with then-University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., and his Special Assistant Michael Garanzini, S.J., to discuss their concerns with Campus Ministry and its leadership. The meeting prompted the university to conduct an internal review of Campus Ministry which included a meeting between Garanzini and Bunnell, according to Assistant Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille.

In a statement following the meeting, Bunnell said, “I very much appreciate the time that Garanzini spent talking to my staff about how we might improve our services to the entire campus community. This internal review is confidential and will serve as a springboard for further discussions about enhancing our efforts.”

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